If you’ve ever wondered what in the world treacle pudding is, or how one would properly consume marmite, Tea & Sympathy, the British outpost loved by Sarah Jessica Parker, Dame Judi Dench, Kevin Kwan, and none other than David Bowie, has got you covered.
Opened on December 23, 1990, this tiny tea room at 108 Greenwich Avenue has become a Greenwich Village institution. Highlighted as a Business of the Month in 2015 and selected as a Village Awardee in 2019, Village Preservation is no stranger to the charming shop that draws visitors from around the world.
They’ve got trademark British wit—enforcing restaurant rules with quips like: “Amongst those people who happily observed these rules we count the Dalai Lama and David Bowie. If you feel that you are more entitled than a living deity or a rock god I’m afraid we’ll have to disagree.”
They’ve got a shiny black London taxi available to rent, complete with a “delightful British driver.” They’ve got a shop selling imported British goods (Carry On Tea), and a classic Fish n’ Chips (A Salt & Battery) spot next door. And they’ve got all the fixings for a proper English breakfast and a cuppa’ that you could ever want.
But Tea & Sympathy has been struggling to keep up with rising rents since long before the pandemic, and local retail suffered a huge loss in business when St. Vincent’s Hospital closed down in 2010.
Tea & Sympathy is a cornerstone institution in Greenwich Village, preserving the communal character and quality of the Village that we all love so much. Owner/operator Nicky Perry was drawn to this part of New York City in the 1980s specifically because of this quality; it reminded her of London, the kind of place where people knock on each other’s doors asking for a cup of sugar. She established a program called Dinner for One More, which encourages Village elders who may be isolated and alone to have a welcoming place to dine and meet others.
You can show your support for this essential establishment by making reservations for their outdoor afternoon tea, ordering some mince pies for take-out or delivery, picking up some merchandise, or donating to their GoFundMe’s — one for the shops, and one specifically for the staff. You can even purchase a gift card, and give a loved one the gift of bangers and mash.